Archive for May, 2013

Jellyfish, Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, 270513

May 31, 2013

On a recent visit to Chicago, I went to visit the famous

Shedd Aquarium

Of the many water creatures that I saw there, some of the most beautiful, and ethereal, were the


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Jellyfish, sometimes called “jellies” are the major non-polyp form of individuals of the phylum Cnidaria. They are typified as free-swimming marine animals consisting of a gelatinous umbrella-shaped bell and trailing tentacles. The bell can pulsate for locomotion, while stinging tentacles can be used to capture prey.

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Cnidaria? How does one even pronounce that? Easier to just watch these beings float across the water..

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Jellyfish are mainly to be found in seawater, but there are some freshwater varieties, too.

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Jellyfish roamed the seas for at least 500 million years, and possibly 700 million years or more, making them the oldest multi-organ animal. Wow! Jellies are older than I am!

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The name “jellyfish” is itself the subject of debate. As jellyfish are not vertebrates, let alone true fish, the word jellyfish is considered by some to be a misnomer. Public aquariums may use the terms jellies or sea jellies instead. Indeed, it may be said that the term “jellies” has become more popular than “jellyfish”. In scientific literature, “jelly” and “jellyfish” are often used interchangeably.Some sources may use the term “jelly” to refer to organisms in this taxon, as “jellyfish” may be considered inappropriate.

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Amazingly, most jellyfish do not have specialized digestive, osmoregulatory, central nervous, respiratory, or circulatory systems. The manubrium is a stalk-like structure hanging down from the centre of the underside, with the mouth at its tip. This opens into the gastrovascular cavity, where digestion takes place and nutrients are absorbed. It is joined to the radial canals which extend to the margin of the bell. Jellyfish do not need a respiratory system since their skin is thin enough that the body is oxygenated by diffusion. They have limited control over movement, but can use their hydrostatic skeleton to navigate through contraction-pulsations of the bell-like body; some species actively swim most of the time, while others are mostly passive.

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Another incredible fact is that the body is composed of over 95% water; most of the umbrella mass is a gelatinous material — the jelly — called mesoglea which is surrounded by two layers of protective skin. The top layer is called the epidermis, and the inner layer is referred to as gastrodermis, which lines the gut.

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Can jellyfish “feel”? Jellyfish employ a loose network of nerves, located in the epidermis, which is called a “nerve net”. Although traditionally thought not to have a central nervous system, nerve net concentration and ganglion-like structures could be considered to constitute one in most species.A jellyfish detects various stimuli including the touch of other animals via this nerve net.

Their “vision”, too, is different….Some jellyfish have ocelli: light-sensitive organs that do not form images but which can detect light, and are used to determine up from down, responding to sunlight shining on the water’s surface. These are generally pigment spot ocelli, which have some cells (not all) pigmented.

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Certain species of jellyfish, such as the box jellyfish, have been revealed to be more advanced than their counterparts. The box jellyfish has 24 eyes, two of which are capable of seeing color, and four parallel information processing areas or rhopalia that act in competition,[supposedly making it one of the few creatures to have a 360-degree view of its environment.The eyes are suspended on stalks with heavy crystals on one end, acting like a gyroscope to orient the eyes skyward. They look upward to navigate.

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Their sizes vary widely. Jellyfish range from about one millimeter in bell height and diameter to nearly two meters in bell height and diameter; the tentacles and mouth parts usually extend beyond this bell dimension.

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Most jellyfish alternate between polyp and medusa generations during their life cycle. Additionally, there are several possible larval life-stages. Their reproduction, too, is’s both sexual and asexual! Upon reaching adult size, jellyfish spawn daily if there is enough food. In most species, spawning is controlled by light, so the entire population spawns at about the same time of day, often at either dusk or dawn.[42] Jellyfish are usually either male or female (hermaphroditic specimens are occasionally found).

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And here’s the most amazing factoid of all..some varieties of jellies are immortal! Jellyfish lifespans typically range from a few hours to several months. Life span and maximum size varies by species. Jellyfish held in public aquariums are carefully tended, and so may live several years, though this would be very unusual in the sea. Most large coastal jellyfish live 2 to 6 months, during which they grow from a millimeter or two to many centimeters in diameter. One unusual species is reported to live as long as 30 years. Another unusual species, T. nutricula, might be effectively immortal because of its ability under certain circumstances in the laboratory to transform from medusa back to the polyp stage, thereby escaping death!

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Jellies are carnivorous, feeding on plankton, crustaceans, fish eggs, small fish and other jellyfish, ingesting and voiding through the same hole in the middle of the bell. Jellies hunt passively using their tentacles as drift nets. Some jellies can have a toxic sting, too. Jellyfish stings range from a twinge to tingling to agony. Most jellyfish stings are not deadly, but stings of the Box jellyfish, such as the famous and especially toxic Irukandji jellyfish, can be deadly

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Their enemies? Other species of jellyfish are among the most common and important jellyfish predators, some of which specialize in jellies. Other predators include tuna, shark, swordfish, sea turtles and at least one species of Pacific salmon. Sea birds sometimes pick symbiotic crustaceans from the jellyfish bells near the sea’s surface.

Of course, we are enemies to jellies, too. In some countries, such as Japan, jellyfish are known as a delicacy. “Dried jellyfish” has become increasingly popular throughout the world. The jellyfish is dried to prevent spoiling; if not dried they can spoil within a matter of hours. Once dried, they can be stored for weeks at a time.

I do not know exactly which species of jellyfish I have photographed. The light in the enclosure changed from blues to violets, and I tried clicking them as they rapidly moved through the water with other-wordly grace. Indeed, the word “other-worldly” is very appropriate..this marine world is one which most of us will never enter in our lives! The jellies I photographed had such long tentacles; they seemed to entangle themselves in each other and with the tentacles of the “bloom” (group of jellies)…and I saw several severed pieces of tentacles, too. Apparently, jellyfish are displayed in many public aquaria. Often the tank’s background is blue and the animals are illuminated by side light, increasing the contrast between the animal and the background. In natural conditions, many jellies are so transparent that they are nearly invisible.

What amazing creatures populate this Earth! Between the land, the water and the air, there will never be an end to the wonders that Nature provides.

If all these photos are not enough, you can see my FaceBook album


The moon in the clouds

May 30, 2013

Here’s the moon in the clouds.

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Or…is it a ghost in shrouds?

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Is she a woman heavily veiled?

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Or is it just vapour in a trail?

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Visit to Chicago, 26, 27, 280513

May 30, 2013

DS’ mother, LS, asked, “So how was the great Chicago trip?” and the answer is….

Well…the attractions were nice. We managed to do quite a bit…the “Ferrist” Wheel, the Carousel, and a really lovely night architecture cruise. The decision to have Italian food at Capi’s

was a good one..the food was excellent

next day, breakfast became a very protracted lunch, thanks to a dreadfully long wait for a table, and an equally long wait for (good) food at Yolk:

by the time we got out of there (we actually gave our names and went and tried our luck at Waffles, which was just as bad, so we came back!) the Aquarium was also getting crowded. As Derek puts it, we admired the incredible length of the queue, and we came back to the hotel, and drove over to Evanston in the afternoon, and though we didn’t see the House Where Lynn Lived, (or the House Where Al Capone lived!) we did visit the Bahai’i Temple, and then went to the Indian area, and I met up with an FB friend of mine, Manini Rao, and her son Hrittik and we had excellent south Indian food at the Udupi Palace

My friend’s son had a dosai with us, and she had a coffee. Hrittik, who’s a very sweet 6, and Boodi got along famously! DnA did their Indian grocery shopping while I took care of the kids…here, too, the crowd and noise factor was immense, and it was raining, and cold. The groceries, supposed to be half the price of St.Louis, turned out to be the same prices…PLUS very crowded shopping conditions!

On Sunday morning, we made it in reasonable time to the Shedd Aquarium. . Boodi didn’t get very interested in this place, though Anjana and she did see the Dora the Explorer show, and the exhibits were good. The crowd and noise level got more and more stressful, and we were very, very happy to be out. We were done by about 1pm or so. We had so many leftovers from our other meals that we just came back to the hotel, picked up our bags, and drove back. The little one did not seem happy in the car after a couple of hours, and we had to make multiple stops to try and pacify him…we got home around 8.30pm, I think.

MOTS (Moral Of The Story)….do not visit touristy attractions on a long weekend! However, we still managed to have quite a good time, and certainly Boodi and Bobby (don’t ask me why, but Mohan calls him that and it seems SUCH an apt name for him, much more than Kalyan…it reminds me very much of Big Bob!) bore up very well to the trip. Here he is, praying that we get home soon…

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Boodi Ma is sitting next to me trying to ruin my phone, and she said “hi to Nanna” in a tiny voice when I told her I am emailing you. I’ve got a pic of her latest tee, and you’re guaranteed to like it!

I’ve been posting albums on FB, you can go through them…I’ve not posted the Aquarium photos yet. Will get to it soon….Bobby-Booda has been rather fidgety the last couple of days, and it’s been difficult to get time on the laptop.

STL is warm and humid…and I’m hoping that we have a mild time of it….! I do hate the warm weather. DnA spent almost the entire night de-bugging the garage 😦 I spent the night awake fighting off mosquitoes…we’d left the front door open while we all went over to talk to Sandy and Michael next door (tomorrow they complete 42 years of marriage!)


Art of Lust/Rust/Dust:

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Q was the letter we learnt to fear in Chicago!

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When we came back to the hotel, from our 11th floor room we saw an Indian wedding (baaraat) in progress at the Chicago Hilton next door:

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The Museum had this creature who is slightly older than I am:

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Architecture was beautiful everywhere:

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The gulls were bold and beautiful:

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Sculptures dotted the Millenium Park:

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Just like Forest Park, Millenium Park had a lot of Segways:

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Scraping the sky…

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The Memorial Day weekend fireworks from the Architecture Night Cruise were lovely to watch:

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Imagine, some designer busts his gut to design these buildings, only to have them dubbed the Corn on the Cob!

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Here’s the Sears Tower:

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More beautiful, illumintated buildings:

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What are tourist attractions without junk items?

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the famous Ferris Wheel on the Navy Pier:

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The dancing fountains:

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Tiramisu and cappucino, a great combination at Capi’s:

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Carousing on the Carousel:

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Exchanged looks,and vows, at a wedding in the Crystal Building:

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the Carousel and the Wave Slinger,from the Ferris Wheel:

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Two lines in Lake Michigan:

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Let me end with this picture of happiness at the prospect of the “Ferrist Wheel ride!”

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For more photos of the first day, see my FB albums,





Haven’t got around to the second and third days yet!

Robin’s nest

May 24, 2013

I was returning from my walk when I saw,
On a house further down the street…
A Robin’s nest with little ones
Popping out to meet

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Their mother, returning back home,
Bringing worms for food.
Those open beaks and chirping noise
Showed the hunger of her brood.

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Whichever creature it may be
Anywhere in the world…
The babies may be in nest or cot,
But in their mothers’ hearts they lie curled!

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The robin removes the fecal sac from the nest:\

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KTB gets creative!

May 24, 2013

We usually sing when we are in the car.

Here’s her own positive spin on “Jamaican Farewell”!

She said she’d just made it up 🙂 We were quite thrilled!

How a song led me to an amazing creature!

May 23, 2013

I was listening to this song (OK, it must be pretty old hat for most of you,but I was listening to it for the first time:

so I decided to look up the


and wow, it’s a fearsome creature…and all the factoids mentioned in the song are mentioned in the Wiki, too!

I just want to know HOW it was determined that cavitation bubbles can contain temperatures up to a 1000 deg Kelvin…who does that kind of research, and what implements are used to do it? Anyone who has any clue…let me know…

The Bard and the birds

May 22, 2013

I went to see Twelfth Night at Forest Park.
But it had not yet become dark.
I went to hear some immortal words;
But everywhere I saw the birds.

In the trees of Shakespeare’s Glen,
I saw a little Carolina Wren.
There was a pretty Northern Flicker,
Taking pity upon this clicker.

I looked up and saw two Mourning Doves
Sitting…and watching,…on a wire above.
A family of pretty Kildeer
Came quite near, without too much fear.

Robins and Starlings came to witness the sight
Of a rehearsal of Twelfth Night.
But the biggest fans of the famous Bard
Seemed to be the waddling Mallards!

Several of these ran up eagerly
And, along with the audience, settled to see
A famous play…I’m sure its creator
Never imagined birds watching his theatre!

I’ve put up some of the photos of the birds at the rehearsal of the play…

click here for my FB album

They are the commonest birds imaginable…but they utterly delighted me! Where else can I get Art and Nature together like this, except Forest Park?

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Mallards side

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Mallards diagonal

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Mallards near seats

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Mallards near stage

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Mallards near audience

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Tree sunshine

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Sunset Trees

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Moon leaves

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Sunset Leaves

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Bees and flowers….

May 21, 2013

I went to the U City Library, and was was 8.45am and the library opens at 9am. I looked at the flowers along the wall of the building..and found the bees active…

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Here’s another bee on a Columbine:

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I had to finally (er, after half an hour!) leave the bees and the flowers, and go off…

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The Gateway Arch

May 21, 2013

Sometimes,it’s more fun to see a landmark in unexpected places….

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or here…

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The Gateway Arch of St.Louis is one of the most beautiful landmarks I know!

Pat on the….back

May 20, 2013

When it’s bottoms up…

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and there is a willingness to pat….

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Happiness results!

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But when I said I was going to put it up on the blog…

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